Manchester City Look Ready for Schalke

GELSENKIRCHEN, GERMANY - FEBRUARY 20: Leroy Sane of Manchester City celebrates after scoring his team's second goal with team mates during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 First Leg match between FC Schalke 04 and Manchester City at Veltins-Arena on February 20, 2019 in Gelsenkirchen, Germany. (Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images)

Manchester City looks ready to dispatch Schalke from the Champions League. The defending Premier League champions executed an outstanding 3-2 comeback win in Germany in the first leg. Now off the back of a strong second half against Watford, City look ready to advance in the Champions League quarter-finals.

Manchester City Looks Ready for Schalke

It Starts With City

Things have been a little strange for Manchester City since that incredible comeback against Schalke two weeks ago. They won the Carabao Cup final against Chelsea just three days after that victory in Germany, but it came after an awful and ugly 0-0 draw that dragged on for 120 minutes. In the three Premier League games since, only the second half against Watford was anything resembling City football.

Teams in the Premier League have decided that the only way to stop City is to defend as deep as possible and hope it works out. Bournemouth, West Ham, Chelsea and Watford all went with very deep defensive lines. They tried to play so deep that they could beat City to the byline, and for three-and-a-half of those four games, it worked really well.

In the second half against Watford, City finally broke the defensive resolve of one of these sides. On the surface, it’s easy to say an awful refereeing decision did more to break Watford than Manchester City did. That bad decision had an impact on them, however, City changed the way they were playing to open up Watford’s defence.

Manchester City changed the focus of their play from the right side in the first half, to the left side in the second. It started opening up all kinds of space for Raheem Sterling. He had space in-behind, and space cutting in on his right foot and he exploited it. His hat-trick should be the confidence boost Manchester City need to cut Schalke apart.

Schalke are Struggling

The German club have been on a terrible run of form – since the first leg of this tie they’ve been outscored 11-2. They lost 3-0 to Mainz, 4-0 to Dusseldorf and on Friday got smacked by Werder Bremen 4-2. It’s not like these are strong Bundesliga sides either, these are the teams Schalke are fighting with to avoid relegation.

That being said, it is really tough to expect a team on this kind of form to get a result at the Etihad. It would be one thing if they were defensively strong, but they are struggling to do everything and those are the teams that Manchester City looks forward to feasting on.

Expect Line-Ups

There are going to be a couple of changes for City to the side that played against Watford. There will be no Nicolas Otamendi as he is suspended after his red card in the first leg. It doesn’t seem as if Riyad Mahrez will start on the wing in this game either, which should open the door for Aymeric Laporte to return at the back, and Leroy Sane to start up front.

It’s easy to expect Ederson will be behind a back four of Oleksandr Zinchenko, Laporte, Vincent Kompany and Kyle Walker. Zinchenko has been really impressive over the last couple of months and has made that left-back spot his this season. It’s as strong a back four that City can field.

The midfield will probably be Ilkay Gundogan at the base, with Bernardo Silva and David Silva flanking either side of him. Gundogan has played well when deputizing for Fernandinho and he will likely be in that position again on Tuesday. Finally, the trio of Sane, Sterling and Sergio Aguero should get the start up front, with all of them in great form.

Prediction

As mentioned above, it’s tough to see anything besides a Manchester City victory in this game. They are hungry for Champions League success at the club, and with so many big teams going down already, they see an opening. There is no way there aren’t going to put Schalke to the sword in order to seize it.

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